Mac vs PC for college (2020)

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Our Macbook Recommendation
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Silver (Previous Model)
Our PC / Desktop Recommendation
Dell Inspiron All-in-One AIO Desktop Computer 21.5" FHD Display AMD A9-9425, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, HDMI, Multi-Card Reader, Wireless-AC, Bluetooth, KKE Mousepad, Wired Keyboard&Mouse, Win10
Model
Macbook Air 2020
Inspiron All-in-One
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent July 2020
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent July 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
Dell
RAM
8 GB
8 GB
CPU
256GB SSD
AMD A9-9425
Graphics Card
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Radeon R5 Graphics
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
Battery Time
-
Value for money
Weight
2.8 lbs
9.41 lbs
Pros
  • Very light, perfect to bring to class
  • Awesome Screen for Studying, Presentations and watching movies
  • Great battery for long study lessons
  • Great Performance for heavier programs (Photoshop, Office etc.) & a lot storage for pictures / movies
  • All-in-One Desktop computer (Display, Computer, Speakers, Keyboard & Mouse included)
  • Cheaper than a Macbook
Cons
  • A bit expensive, but its worth it in our opinion, since it needs to last the whole college
  • Obviously can't bring it to class..
Our Macbook Recommendation
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Silver (Previous Model)
Model
Macbook Air 2020
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent July 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
RAM
8 GB
CPU
256GB SSD
Graphics Card
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
2.8 lbs
Pros
  • Very light, perfect to bring to class
  • Awesome Screen for Studying, Presentations and watching movies
  • Great battery for long study lessons
Cons
  • A bit expensive, but its worth it in our opinion, since it needs to last the whole college
Our PC / Desktop Recommendation
Dell Inspiron All-in-One AIO Desktop Computer 21.5" FHD Display AMD A9-9425, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, HDMI, Multi-Card Reader, Wireless-AC, Bluetooth, KKE Mousepad, Wired Keyboard&Mouse, Win10
Model
Inspiron All-in-One
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent July 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
RAM
8 GB
CPU
AMD A9-9425
Graphics Card
Radeon R5 Graphics
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
-
Value for money
Weight
9.41 lbs
Pros
  • Great Performance for heavier programs (Photoshop, Office etc.) & a lot storage for pictures / movies
  • All-in-One Desktop computer (Display, Computer, Speakers, Keyboard & Mouse included)
  • Cheaper than a Macbook
Cons
  • Obviously can't bring it to class..

Before college or university starts, a lot students are looking for new computers/laptops, which they need for their studies. They ask themselves, whether they want to get a Mac or a Microsoft powered Laptop. We show you what is the best deal for you and the differences between both systems.

It’s an old argument between computer users: What’s better, a Windows PC or an Apple Mac for university students? Of course there is no definitive answer to this question. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. Which one a user chooses depends on his requirements and preferences. Both are good systems, but they have significant differences. We let the two opponents compete in nine disciplines.

Design

windows laptops

The strength of all Apple devices is their good design. For decades, Apple has relied on chief designer Jonathan Ive, who is responsible not only for the design of the hardware but also for the operating system. This does not mean, of course, that PC manufacturers can not build beautiful notebooks. Models like Lenovo’s elegant Thinkpad X1 and Microsoft’s Surface Book also offer an impressive product design.

Simple product design also has disadvantages. For example, the Macbook comes without a conventional USB type A interface for quite some time now.

But the design is not only good looking – a flat and light notebook is easier to transport and a reflective display is more robust and contrasty. If you’re concerned about external appearance, the macbook brings a great look with it.

Thus, some startup companies and developers probably deliberately focus on innovative and cool-looking Macs – instead of Dells and Acers.

PC manufacturers, on the other hand, often have the disadvantage of having to adhere to Microsoft and Intel specifications: For example, Intel’s stipulation that ultrabooks must have a touchscreen. This is not exactly helpful for developing independent designs.

1:0 for the Mac. Overall, the Mac can take the lead here. If the look of a computer is important, a Macbook or iMac is simply the better choice.

Price

Apple doesn’t sell cheap devices: the cheapest model, a Mac Mini, costs 569 USD – the cheapest Macbook 1099 USD. Various Windows laptops and notebooks, on the other hand, are available from around 200 USD.

However, the comparison is a bit misleading. Macbooks are luxury laptops, offering first-class workmanship and performance. In the Windows world, business laptops or top models like the Microsoft Surface Book 7 are often similarly expensive – or even more expensive.

However, Apple’s pricing policy, which reminds us a bit of the surcharge lists of some Mercedes and BMW models, does not exactly stand for fairness. For example, a current 12 inch Macbook with a 256 GB SSD costs 1499 USD– the identical model with 512 GB SSD costs 300 USD more. Later upgrades of the proprietary memory or soldered RAM are almost impossible, repairs are expensive. However, as Apple’s good sales figures show, the tech giant can apparently easily afford this surcharge strategy.

1:1 The victory goes to the PC here. Apple makes its products too expensive.

Support and warranty

Apple service and support is also expensive: When buying a Macbook, a three-year Apple Care contract costs 249 USD- with Dell, you get three years of on-site service. If you drive to the nearest Apple store, you’ll get good advice and immediate repairs, but under certain circumstances (and depending on where you live) the stores aren’t always easy to reach.

When buying in a specialist shop, however, you are not limited to Apple Care; various dealers offer cheaper insurance and extended warranties. More problematic is the availability of Mac support for businesses and the self-employed: On-site repair or rental service is not available for businesses from Apple itself, only from specialists such as Cancom and Computacenter. In USA, finding a Mac customer service, especially in outlying areas, is costly.

For an immediate PC emergency service, on the other hand, a glance at the Craigslist is enough. Apple fans like to argue with the TCO: Mac would have fewer problems and would cause less support costs, which is also confirmed by a report from IBM. But this can only be proven to a limited extent and depends heavily on the company in question.

2:1 service is cheaper for Windows PCs and easier to get – advantage for the PC.

Data protection

Laptop flexibility
A 2018 Apple MacBook Air laptop computer with a Gold finish, taken on November 19, 2018. (Photo by Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine)

Microsoft and Apple are American companies, and the servers of the iCloud and OneDrive cloud services, which are being integrated ever more deeply into the system, are located on American soil.

Not only since the NSA scandal is this a bad starting position for trust in the protection of data stored in Apple and Microsoft data centers. At least the data on iOS devices is apparently very secure, as attacks by US authorities on Apple’s iOS encryption show.

Apple is still ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting against malware and spyware. There are very few known Mac malware threats, and most of them are not very dangerous adware. The current operating system version macOS Catalina offers further improved protection against hacker attacks, but macOS is not without its flaws. Again and again security holes become known.

Unlike the Windows platform, however, they are rarely exploited by hackers. It is not without reason that an antivirus scanner has been pre-installed as standard in Windows since version 8 – but Windows remains the less secure operating system in practice due to its widespread use.

2:2 The Mac is the more secure platform, so the point goes to the Apple world. But no operating system is free of security holes.

Software

The software offering on the PC platform is clearly larger. With a 7.29 percent Mac market share worldwide, that’s no wonder. There is a wide range of software available in the areas of audio editing, video editing, image editing and DTP software. Adobe and Microsoft are the most important providers in both the Mac and Windows worlds. Because the number of web applications is constantly increasing, the underlying operating system plays an increasingly insignificant role in some areas.

On the negative side: Apple has already annoyed many loyal users with its sometimes unpredictable product policy on software.

For example, video professionals were once unpleasantly surprised by the abrupt end of the Final Cut Pro editing software, and new versions of OS X Server and iWork have already annoyed many existing customers.

The Mac world, however, lacks many specialised enterprise applications and business applications for companies. For occasional use, users can still switch to a virtualization solution such as Parallels or Vmware.

3:2 The PC has the larger software offering, especially in the area of business software.

Operating System

MacOS Catalina and Windows 10 are matured operating systems without any big flaws. If you put a newcomer in front of a Mac or PC, he will quickly get used to it. The advantages of Windows are mainly in the areas we have already discussed in the previous categories: Software supply and distribution in many companies. Basically, with Catalina, appearance, security and ease of use could be rated slightly better, but the range of functions in Windows is superior.

There are many similarities between the two systems: The user should obtain programs via an integrated software shop, a web storage service is integrated into the system. As with a mobile device, users can manage their programs in a colorful icon or button overview, many functions can be controlled by gestures or touchscreen.

Apple relies on the Siri language assistant under iOS, Microsoft uses Cortana for the desktop. The biggest difference is that Apple continues to separate the mobile system from the Mac operating system, while Microsoft wants to offer a uniform system for all platforms with Windows 10.

With Windows 8, Microsoft had introduced some radical innovations, with Windows 10 Redmond had to take back much of it. Microsoft received a lot of applause simply because a familiar start menu is available again.

4:3 No winner. Windows and OS X are first-class operating systems with respective strengths and weaknesses.

Smartphone compatibility

Laptop dell notepad

Macs in companies are rare, while iPhone and iPad are widely used. At Costco you can see sales managers walking through the store with an iPad, at P&G Apple smartphones are also standard. iPhone and iPad are often a reason why the purchase of a Mac is considered or a company employee uses a Mac privately.

In the meantime, the iPhone and iPad are well integrated into the company IT, which would be beneficial for college or university students. The wide range of solutions for mobile device management is helpful in this respect. Even Apple has taken care of enterprise-grade management capabilities and provides MDM software for managing iOS devices. A cooperation with IBM is also intended to create trust in the corporate environment.

Microsoft’s mobile platform Windows 10 Mobile, on the other hand, could not prevail, although it offered interesting functions for company employees. In between, the IT giant has officially stopped further development of its mobile platform. Customers were particularly disappointed by the meagre app offering. Even their own hardware (Lumia 950) and the Universal Apps could not prevent the death of the Windows phone.

However, the concept could have turned the tide, at least in the corporate sector: With “real” Windows instead of Windows RT, Microsoft’s Surface devices eventually became the iPad and Macbook competition.

4:4 Here Apple wins convincingly in this regard.

Games

Playing games with laptop

Laptops are not only used studying for exams, but also for your free time next to college or university, like gaming for example. Most new games still appear for the Windows PC. In recent years, the ratio has changed somewhat because there are more games for the Mac platform. But the Mac version sometimes comes years after the Windows version. Many Mac game fans therefore install Windows on their Apple computer for games using Bootcamp.

But Apple also has weaknesses when it comes to hardware: Classic Windows desktops can be equipped with a faster graphics card (even if only to a limited extent), but the graphics card is not upgradeable on iMac and Macbook.

If you are searching for a Laptop for College, that can also play Video Games, click here. (We tested the best College Gaming Laptops).

The Mac computers and Macbooks that would make good game computers are usually simply too expensive. It is therefore no coincidence that many Mac fans also own a Playstation. In general, however, the game manufacturers seem to be concentrating their development efforts more and more on consoles and mobile devices.

The games on offer for iOS are first-class. Macbooks are not designed for gaming. So if you are looking to play the new Flight Simulator coming out end of 2020, you should look out for a gaming laptop runnning Windows.

6:4 The point goes to the Windows computer. PC games appear faster and in higher numbers for Windows.

Environmental protection

When it comes to fair working conditions, Apple has received a lot of bad press in recent years. Workers in Chinese companies were treated unfairly, Apple was an exploiter. In our opinion, however, the criticism by Greenpeace and Co. is mainly due to the high demands made on the US manufacturer – after all, even the smartphone manufacturer has fairphones manufactured in Chinese factories.

Fujitsu is the only company that has, or had, some devices manufactured in Germany. Compared to competitors such as HP, Dell, Acer and Samsung, Apple is doing quite well.

Greenpeace praised Apple, saying that Samsung should take the competitor as an example of transparency in its supply chains. When it comes to environmental protection and sustainability, Apple is making a big effort, but the USA is the main target here. Apple complies with the EPEAT guidelines, which are important for companies in the USA.

The Mac Pro is produced in the USA and pays attention to diversity in the workforce. All products are free of PVC and BFR, something that no other major manufacturer has offered so far.

Apple’s devices are difficult to disassemble, but the recycling rate is still very high at 85 percent. All major PC manufacturers are committed to sustainability. However, environmentally friendly models are often special models. For example, a recently introduced product line like Fujitsus Pro Green is no longer available. Excluding micro-companies like Fairphone, Apple still makes the best impression.

6:5 Green IT is taken into account by all major manufacturers – but for the manufacturer Apple this applies to all products: Victory for Apple.

Conclusion

The final score is 6:4 – victory for the Windows platform with a one-point lead, meaning that buying a Windows laptop might be the better choice for a fresh student attending college or university. Apple has weaknesses especially in the areas of enterprise deployment and software offering. The biggest disadvantage compared to the PC platform is not so much the high price as the still low distribution.

The situation is completely different with the iPad and iPhone for college students / university students: Here, the high market penetration has automatically provided the necessary infrastructure of software and services. For private users, Macs are not a bad choice, and a little exclusivity is a real selling point.

Windows PCs are less expensive, users can choose from significantly more different products and the software offering is better. While Apple seems to have lost its innovative power, Microsoft is experimenting with new devices. Specialized support providers for Windows are easy to find and comparatively inexpensive. For gamers, it is clear anyway that a Mac is out of the question.

Apple’s great strength, however, is its consistent design. In addition, following harsh criticism from NGOs, the company is now very keen to maintain ethical standards. Macs are also considered much more secure than PCs running Windows.

But the bottom line doesn’t mean that Windows computers are the better choice for college/university students. If you have enough money left over for a Mac, you like one of Apple’s products, you don’t need extremely specialised software, and you rarely play PC games, you can safely go for a Mac. Most users are likely to be happy with one system as well as the other, so the decision won’t become a regret later on.

Is Windows safer than MacOS?

Apple Macbook Air

Macs were long considered much safer than Windows computers, partly because there was little specific malware. The myth of the unhackable Mac persists, criticises former NSA employee and Apple hacker Patrick Wardle. Wardle wants to do away with this myth, as the New York Times reports. After all, the number of Macs in use has risen to 100 million. For comparison: Windows 10 is found on 800 million computers.

Mac users are also a particularly lucrative target for cybercriminals, according to Wardle, as the devices are used mostly by the wealthier, creative and corporate executives.

And Windows may have been easier to hack in the past. But today, Wardle says, Windows is much more secure than macOS. “A Windows 10 device with Defender is a really hard nut to crack for hackers,” New York Times quotes the software expert. In comparison, Wardle says that macOS is a “pretty easy target“.

Therefore, according to Wardle, many hackers are now switching from Windows to macOS. At the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas, the former secret service agent showed how a Mac can be hacked. He also offers a range of Mac malware on his website. The Windtail malware offered there is said to have been used to attack representatives of a government in the Middle East.

On the one hand, Wardle attacks Apple for relying too long on the fact that Macs have hardly been in the sights of attackers. On the other hand, the security software industry has also been inactive about Mac security software for similar reasons.

Methods to monitor the behavior of the computer and thus also find unknown malware – as there is for Windows – are also needed for the Mac. Wardle also offers free security programs for Mac users on its website.


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